Tonight, during the State of the Union address, President Obama will likely drone on about how he thinks wealth inequality is an important issue. And the polls show Americans agree, the economy is polling as the number one issue while an increasingly number of Americans no longer identify as middle class. These concerns come amidst one of the worst labor markets in American history with an anemic workforce participation rate and record poverty.
The state of the union is weak.
Not only are the rich getting richer, not only have millions of Americans been impoverished by unpunished fraud on Wall Street, but the rich are paying an even lower share of their taxes to the government. The Obama Presidency has been wonderful for the top 1%.
New data is out from the IRS, showing the share of federal income taxes paid by those in each economic strata. Bruce Bartlett points out that the richest Americans have seen their share of taxes declining rather significantly under Obama. Specifically, the richest 1% paid 37.5% of taxes in (recession-damaged) 2008; in 2011, their share was down to 35%. (Their share peaked in 2007, during the boom times—and the Bush administration.) The top 5% of earners also saw their share of taxes decline by a similar margin. So, under the first three years of the Obama administration, the very rich saw their share of taxes go down.
Bartlett’s analysis notes there has been a “sharp reduction in the share paid by those in the top 1 percent of taxpayers ranked by adjusted gross income, since 2007.” Yes, while conservatives are moronically squealing about socialism, the rich have been paying even less taxes. Hopefully the recent tax changes will at least restore the rate to pre-Obama levels if not somewhat shift the burden off the middle class.
So now that Obama is a lame duck he will decide to protest his own legacy by challenging the inequality he helped create.
The State of the Union is at 9 pm EST. Enjoy the show.